Why? Three reasons. One: he was on sale. Two: He's a decent complement to Mr. Freeze (at least subject-matter wise). Three: I actually kinda like him.
We got the standard 10 points of Mattel-ulation (you know... instead of articulation... I'm priceless!): knees, hips, forearms, ball-jointed shoulders, waist and neck. He comes with an arctic pick launcher, an arctic backpack, an arctic faceplate, and, of course, an arctic shield. The backpack is pretty cool if not overly simple. The ice-pick is nice, surprisingly hard and sharp for a Mattel toy, and works well as its own accessory when not being used as a projectile from its maroon launcher. The translucent, orange face-plate, or eye-guard-thing is surprisingly... removable. This is shocking because not only does the figure look really bad without it, these toys are quite admittedly targeted to the 10 and under crowd.
This first thing that I thought of when it popped off the first time was, "oh great, now I'll never find it!" But when I did my thoughts turned more toward, "Wow, this thing has lawsuit written all over it." The faceplate is perfectly sized for both swallowing and choking. That plus the hard, sharp pick make me wonder what kind of idiots are really in charge of this line. They claim the articulation is limited because the figures are aimed for young children, but then they include these amazingly dangerous accessories. For a company that is solely concerned with playing it safe, this is a bizarre choice and move for them. Finally, the shield is as mediocre as the rest of the figure, but it hides a secret! A secret so very shocking I had best give it its own paragraph! Behold!
The shield unfolds! This elongation takes place by first sliding down the bottom (tail) of the shield then flipping up the top (bat-ears). It not only unfolds to become a longer shield, but also a bat-snowboard! That's right, kids, now Batman can "woosh" his way through the arctic tundra thanks to a single, handy foot peg that Bats can stand upon. Fantastic...
The sculpt is surprisingly not too bad for such a figure. Again, I found it decent enough to own. There's nothing really amazing to discuss, but I should mention that I like the soft, quilted parka-like detailing to the bluish parts of the suit. The paint is also marginal... okay, it's pretty bad. The individual figure I ended up with has pretty sloppily applied paint. It also is a pretty simple three-color job that is good enough to not make the figure suck, but some sort of wash, dry-brush, etc., would be a very welcome addition to the white armor. Finally, the cape is another two-layer affair, with silver on the bottom and dark blue on top.
Unlike countless other alternate Batmen, this one actually helps create a sort of theme, since he loosely relates to the Mr. Freeze figure. Sure, it's not an airtight grouping, but it sure beats the ludicrousness of Martial Arts Batman and the like. That said though, it still has some problems, paint most majorly. He's as goofy as he is fun and I can only recommend him if you already like him. Besides, it's Mattel, so it's not like we were really expecting much from "Arctic Shield Batman."
Get creative: as long as Mattel is going to crank them out, what Batman variants would you like to see? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.